Danielle Sawyer

I grew up in rural Virginia with my parents and a younger brother. When I was a kid, I attended a handful of church services and Sunday School with my family, but I could not even tell you the church we attended. All I remember was every Christmas we would go to the Christmas service and then on the way home, on the back winding roads, we would look for Santa in the sky. I did not really know anything about God, or Jesus, just that Jesus saved us from our sins and that God was to be respected. That all changed.
It was June; I was twelve years old and getting ready to go to horse camp. My mom and brother were going to visit my grandmother in Montauk, New York. My father was going to take me to camp. When I came home from the barn, something did not feel right. I had a gut feeling that something terrible was going to happen. I begged my mom not to leave, and when she asked why, I could not explain it. She left. It took years for me to forgive her for leaving me that night.

Then cop cars surrounded our car. They pulled my dad from the car. I heard screams, “There’s a kid in the back, there’s a kid in the back!” An officer opened my door and asked who I was.

I grabbed a shower, and my dad came in, told me to hurry up because we were going to meet someone. I finished my shower, got dressed, and got in the car. While driving, my dad told me we were going to pick up someone he had been talking to on the internet, and she was going to come home with us. We pulled up to a gas station in Charlottesville, and there was a girl waiting with a backpack. My dad told me to move to the backseat. As I was climbing back, cop cars surrounded our car. They pulled my dad from the car. I heard screams, “There’s a kid in the back, there’s a kid in the back!” An officer opened my door and asked who I was. I asked them what they were doing with my dad, and he told me my dad was going to be okay, but they had some questions for him and for me.
They asked where my mom was. I told them, and then I was driven to the police station. They put me in a conference room that had a TV. I watched Animal Planet (The Crocodile Hunter; thank God for those marathons because I was there for hours). They gave me grape soda and Doritos from the vending machine. That was my dinner for the evening. I have not touched grape soda since. I was finally taken to an interview room, asked a million questions, and pointed to pictures. Finally, around 11pm I was told my father had been sexually abusing me from the time I was eight until I was twelve. They asked me why I never told anyone. I told them I did not know this was wrong. What do you do when it is your dad?
My life was completely flipped upside down. I was picked up by my next door neighbors and taken to their house for the night. All I wanted was to see my mom and my dogs. I barely slept that night. I was brought to the local station the next morning. I was asked a million questions again. My mom made it safely back from New York. She has no idea this behavior had been going on. No one did. Again, what do you do when it is your dad?

I was supposed to leave for horse camp the next day. I went to the barn and did a drill team practice. My friends did not ask me any questions. We just rode, and then they let me cry on their shoulders. I had to decide if I still wanted to go to horse camp. Something told me it would be good to get away for a few days and just be with my pony. So, I went. My mom called every day. It was the best decision I made.

We did not watch the news for several months. People brought news clippings to school of “current events” about my dad. My mom was now in charge of both kids, working full time, and figuring out how to handle our finances and lives with this news. Finally, she had to make the hard decision: we needed to move. So, at age thirteen, seventh grade, I moved from Virginia to Delaware. I, of course, hated it because I wanted to stay with my friends and my horses, but we needed to get out of Virginia. We needed to move away from this trauma. The Lord led us to the best place for my family.

My mom wanted me to join a church and go to youth group. I told her flat out that I was not going to youth group. Well, of course, God has a plan, and that plan came in the form of a little black kitten at the farm where we got our eggs.

One of the things my mom was big on when we moved here was going back to church. I was not at all enthusiastic about this. I was a teenager, recently uprooted from my friends, and now my mom wanted me to join a church and go to youth group. I told her flat out that I was not going to youth group. Well, of course, God has a plan, and that plan came in the form of a little black kitten at the farm where we got our eggs. My dad was allergic to cats so we couldn’t have one. Well, I saw Spooky, and fell completely in love with her. “Oh Mommy, I will do ANYTHING for this kitty, can we PLEASE have the kitty!?” I think you know where this is going…yes…I joined youth group. I made amazing friends, and even better, I learned a lot about myself, and Jesus.

I am a firm believer that our Lord has a plan for each and every one of us. Early in my law career, I had recently graduated from a paralegal program, but was having a hard time getting a legal position. Finally, I landed an interview with my current boss. He offered me the job, but it would have been a pay cut; so, I took the weekend to think about it. On Sunday morning, I turned on the TV and saw a church service. Usually I would change the channel, but something told me to watch. The preacher was delivering his sermon about signs. God’s plan. That you will regret every chance you do not take because it is God’s plan, it is God’s will. That was all I needed. I left my job, took the leap, and I am now an attorney.

Now I have an incredible husband. We met because I did not go on vacation with my best friend (we had gotten into quite a fight). I had been talking with Ivan for over a month, but our schedules were not meshing well. We met that weekend, and have been together ever since. We are happily married with two precious, albeit sometimes too much to handle, Boston Terriers.

Although many things have not been perfect in my life, far from it, everything has happened because it was supposed to happen this way. This is God’s plan. God has blessed me in so many ways. It is my turn to acknowledge these gifts and blessings and send prayers and love to others. I am happy and honored to be part of the Why I Love Jesus ministry.

1 Comment

  1. Adeline Hoffmann

    Dearest Dani,
    I am proud of the strong woman you have grown into even though you experienced such a horrible four years of your young life. Grateful to God you have found someone who loves you and cares for you. And yes your entire family loves you ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Faith Stories

Wanda Maiden

Wanda Maiden

This past year I found a black dot on my thumbnail that looked like a pencil point. Nothing much to it. Then it became an abrasion at the end of my nail. My doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who found it to be malignant skin cancer.